1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shiraz

SHIRAZ, the capital of the province of Fars in Persia, situated in a fertile plain, in 29° 36′ N., 52° 32′ E, at an elevation of 5100 ft., 156 m. by road N.E. by E. from Bushire (112 m. direct). According to Eastern authorities Shiraz was founded in A.D. 693 by Mahommed b. Yusuf Thakefi, a brother of the famous Hajjaj It is approached on the south from the Persian Gulf through lofty and difficult mountain passes (highest 7400 ft.) and on the north through chains of hills which separate the plain of Shiraz from that of Mervdasht, where the ruins of Persepolis are. It is surrounded by a low mud wall flanked by towers, and a dry ditch, and measures about 4 m. in circumference. There are six gates. The town is divided into eleven quarters (mahalleh), one of which is exclusively inhabited by Jews and called Mahalleh Yahudi. The population of Shiraz is estimated at 60,000, but in 1884 it was 53,607, of which 1970 were Jews. The houses of Shiraz are, in general, small, and the streets narrow. A great bazaar, built by Kerim Khan Zend, forms an exception to this; it is about 500 yds. in length and has a vaulted roof 22 ft. high, and contains many spacious shops well supplied with goods and merchandise. There are many mosques, the most notable being the old Jama, a foundation of the Saffarid ruler Amr b. Leith in 894, now in a state of ruin; the new Jama, generally called Masjed Nau; the New Mosque, built by Atabeg Sʽad b. Zengi, c. 1200; and the Iama i Vakil, built by Kerim Khan Zend in 1766. Shiraz still possesses the title “Dar ul ilm”, the “Seat of Knowledge,” and has many colleges (madresseh), the oldest being the Mansurieh built in 1478 by Seyed Sadr ed din Mahommed Dashteki; the Hashimiyeh and Nizamieh date from the middle of the 17th century, the college called M. i Agha Baba was begun by Kerim Khan Zend, c. 1760, but finished in 1823 by Agha Baba Khan Mazanderani. Of the twenty caravanserais, or more, which Shiraz has, the oldest is that called Car Chiragh Ali, built in 1678. There are several shrines of Imam-zadehs, the most venerated and rich being that of Seyed Amir Ahmed, commonly known as Shah Chiragh, a son of Mūsā Kāzim, the seventh imam of the Shiites. It was built c. 1240 by Atabeg Abu Bekr. Two of Shah Chiragh’s brothers and a nephew also have their graves at Shiraz. Within the town and in close proximity to it are many pleasant gardens (bagh), among them the B. Jehan Nema (Kerim Khan 1766), where C. J. Rich, British resident at Bagdad and explorer of Babylon and Kurdistan, died on the 5th of October 1821, and the adjoining B. i Nau (1810); B. i Takht i Kajar (built 1087 by Atabeg Karajeh under the Seljuk Malik Shah; restored 1794 by order of Agha Mahommed Khan, the first Kajar ruler); B. i Dilgusha (restored 1785), &c. Close to the last-mentioned garden is the Sadiyeh, an enclosure with the tomb of the celebrated poet Sʽadi, and in a cemetery near the northern side of the town stands the Hafiziyeh, with the tomb of the likewise celebrated poet Hafiz, a sarcophagus made of yellow Yezd marble with two of the poet’s odes beautifully chisel led in relief in a number of elegant panels upon its lid. A fine view of the town and environs is obtained from the narrow pass (tang), which leads into the Shiraz plain a mile or two north of the city, and “so overwhelmed with astonishment at the beauty of the panorama is the wayfarer expected to be, that even the pass takes its name of Tang i Allahu Akbar, the Pass of God is Most Great, from the expression that is supposed to leap to his lips as he gazes upon the entrancing spectacle” (Curzon).

The most noted product of Shiraz is its wine made from the famous grapes of the Khullar vineyards, 30 m. N.W. of Shiraz, but only a very small quantity of it is exported, and religious scruples still prevent its manufacture on a large scale. The climate of Shiraz is agreeable and healthy in the winter, but unhealthy in the spring and summer. July is the hottest month with a mean temperature of 85°, February the coldest with 47°. The lowest temperature observed during a number of years was 21°, the highest 113°, showing a difference of 92° between extremes. The mean annual temperature is 65°. Earthquakes are of frequent occurrence; those in modern times which caused great loss of life and destruction of property happened in 1824 and 1853. Shiraz is the residence of a British consul (since 1903) and has post and telegraph offices. On a hill adjoining the Dilgusha garden stand the ruins of an old castle known as Kalʽah i Bender (a corruption of Fahn-dar), with two wells hewn in the rock to a depth of several hundred feet.  (A. H.-S.)